Diary Reviews


GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION. December 1966. Overall rating: 4 stars. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover by Wenzel. The full text is available at The Internet Archive.

POUL ANDERSON “Door to Anywhere.” Novelette. A senator goes to Mars to investigate an accident involving an experiment with jumpgates, which allow men to cross between any two points in the universe. High-powered physics and cosmology. (4)

JOHN BRUNNER “Children in Hiding.” A colony of Earth has a problem with children who d not develop properly. A shocking ending. (4)

HAYDEN HOWARD “The Modern Penitentiary.” Novelette. Dr. West is convicted of attempted genocide of the Esks, and is sent to New Ottawa Reformation Center, where enlightened practices of rehabilitation, including sex, are used. The scene with Noma in the cell demonstrates that an effective writer need not always be explicit. (5)

LARRY NIVEN “At the Bottom of a Hole.” Novelette. Two stories in one: [1] A smuggler is trapped on Mars and discovers how the old base was destroyed. [2] Two officials discover they have been opposing reasons for space exploration. (3)

ROBIN SCOTT “Decoy System.” Evidence of planetary invaders is rigged to effect nuclear disarmament. (3)

JACK VANCE “The Palace of Love.” Serial, part 2 of 3. Demon Princes #3. Review to appear later.

R. A. LAFFERTY “Primary Education of the Camiroi.” The Dubuque PTA travels to another world to compare educational systems, to Earth’s disadvantage. (4)

–September 1967

INFINITY SCIENCE FICTION. October 1957. Overall rating: 3 stars.  Cover by Ed Emshwiller [as by Ed Emsh].

C. M. KORNBLUTH “The Last Man Left in the Bar.” A bar is the scene of an incomprehensible search for a Chapter Seal, but furnishes considerable material for sardonic comment. (2)

DEAN McLAUGHLIN “Welcome Home.” Novelette. A man trying to have the space program reinstated makes a hero of a returning space pilot, but fails to consider the pilot’s anger. Realistic and exciting. (5)

Update: Even though I gave this one five stars, this has been this story’s only appearance.

EDWARD WELLEN “Dr. Vickers’ Car.” Stupid story of Hyde Park orator taken for a ride. (0)

CLIFFORD D. SIMAK “Death Scene.” How life, and death, would be, given universal 24-hour precognition. Personal, not wide-scale. (4)

ARTHUR C. CLARKE “The Other Side of the Sky.” Serial; part 2 of 2. The last three of the series of six stories. See a later report.

RICHARD WILSON “The Enemy.” An obvious story of the real war between the sexes. (2)

RANDALL GARRETT “To Make a Hero.” Short novel. The inside story exposing legendary hero Leland Hale as the crook he was. Read for fun only. (3)

JOHN VICTOR PETERSON “Second Census.” A census taker turns out to be from Alpha Centauri, checking for children planted on Earth for protection. (1)

–September 1967

IF SCIENCE FICTION December 1966. Cover by Jack Gaughan. Overall rating: 3½ stars.

ALGIS BUDRYS “Be Merry.” Novelette. The survivors of the wreck of the Klarri spaceship had brought disease and plague to Earth, but they too were victims of terrestrial sickness. One small settlement finds a cure, but one they are ashamed of. Excellent story spoiled by an over-literary style, delighting in obscurity. (4)

DURANT IMBODEN “The Thousandth Birthday Party.” At age 1000, each person has one chance in 5000 for immortality. (3)

NEAL BARRETT, JR. “Starpath.” Novelette. After a promising beginning, in which the operation of the instant matter transmitter is described, the story ends as a routine tale of war. (2)

LARRY NIVEN “A Relic of the Empire.” Novelette. A xenobiologist learns the location of the puppeteers’ system by using local plant life to defeat a pirate crew. An episode only. (3)

BOB SHAW “Call Me Dumbo.” Novelette. A woman learns the secret of her drugged existence and neatly fails her “husband.” Two men shipwrecked alone on a planet can carry on the race. (4)

ANDREW J. OFFUTT “The Forgotten Gods of Earth.” Kymon of Kir frees the Princess Yasim from the sorcerer Gundrun. (3)

J. T. McINTOSH “Snow White and the Giant.” Serial, part 3 of 4. See report following the January 1967 issue.

– August-September 1967

SUPER-SCIENCE FICTION, February 1958. Cover: Kelly Freas. Overall rating: 2 stars.

JACK VANCE “Worlds of Origin.” Novelette. [Magnus Ridolph #10.] Magnus Ridolph uses cultural analysis to solve a murder in space. Maybe a good idea, but it turns out a bit ridiculous. (1)

ARTHUR ZIRUL “Secret Weapon.” A Trade Bureau agent discovers a planet inhabited by beings with telekinetic powers. Without a name author it must take more than length for novelette status. [The story is two pages longer than the one by Vance.] (2)

KELLER ERNST “The Red, Singing Sands.” A woman must choose which of two beings is her husband and which a Martian. (2)

ROBERT SILVERBERG “Prison Planet.” Novelette. After 500 years of isolation a planet once used for deporting criminals is discovered to be relearning the secret of space travel. Predictable. (3)

CALVIN M. KNOX “The Happy Sleepers.” The world’s population begins to fall into continuous sleep, but without affecting the brain’s activity. (2)     [NOTE: Calvin M. Knox was a pen name of Robert Silverberg.]

RICHARD R. SMITH “The Old Timer.” Two Earthmen learn too late the oldest Martian’s secret (2)

ROBERT F. YOUNG “Time Travel Inc.” An obvious story of two men’s journey through time to witness the Crucifixion. (3)

– August 1967

RAYMOND J. HEALY & J. FRANCIS McCOMAS, Editors – Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time And Space. The Modern Library G-31; hardcover, 1957, xvi + 997 pages. First published as Adventures in Time in Space, Random House, hardcover, 1946. Bantam F3102, paperback, 1966, as Adventures in Time and Space (contains only 8 stories). Ballantine, paperback, 1975, also as Adventures in Time and Space.

Part 5 can be found here.

P. SCHUYLER MILLER “As Never Was.” Time-travel again, somewhat better handled than in “The Sands of Time,” but Miller leaves himself with a paradox he can’t write himself out of. (2)

Update: First published in Astounding Science Fiction, January 1944. First reprinted in this anthology. Collected in The Titan (Fantasy Press, hardcover, 1952). Also reprinted in Alpha 5, edited by Robert Silverberg (Ballantine, paperback original, 1974). This is Miller’s second story in this anthology. You can find my comments on the first here.

ANTHONY BOUCHER “Q.U.R.” Three men form Quimby’s Usuform Robots to produce completely functional robots. Not one of Boucher’s best but entertaining. (3)

Update: First published in Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1943. First reprinted in this anthology. First collected in The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1969). Later also reprinted in The Great Science Fiction Stories Volume 5, 1943, edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg (DAW Books, paperback original, 1981). During his lifetime Boucher was known for his contributions to both the SF and mystery community about equally well . I suspect he is better known today by mystery fans, but I sometimes wonder how many people who go to Bouchercons really know who Anthony Boucher was.

DON A. STUART “Who Goes There?” Novella. The basis for the movie The Thing. An alien monster is found buried in the Antarctica icecap, and it threatens to take over the world because of its ability to take on any shape or form exactly. Much better than might be expected from such a story, and after a slow beginning, the story moves very quickly, particularly after the creature’s unusual abilities are discovered. (4)

Update: First published in Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938. First reprinted in this anthology. First collected in Who Goes There? (Shasta, hardcover, 1948). Also reprinted in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time Chosen by the Science Fiction Writers of America, edited by Ben Bova (Doubleday, hardcover, 1973). Stuart was a pen name of John W. Campbell, Jr., long time of Astounding/Analog SF.

– July-August 1967

   

TO BE CONTINUED.

ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION. December 1966. [Cover by Kelly Freas.]   Overall rating: 2½ stars.

MACK REYNOLDS “Amazon Planet.” Serial, Part 1 of 3. See report following Feb 1967 issue.

BEN BOVA “The Weathermakers.” [Kinsman series] Novelette. A hurricane forces Project THUNDERBIRD to begin complete weather control in the East. Smooth, almost documentary style, but reasons for abandoning ship during storm are not clear. (3)

Update: Excerpt from the novel of the same name (Signet, paperback original, 1967). Included in many collections of Bova’s short fiction.

L. EDEY. The Blue-Penciled Throop. Twelve letter from Oswald Lempe, editor of a technical journal. (2)

Update: This was the author’s only work of science fiction.

KRIS NEVILLE “The Price of Simeryl.” Novelette. A Federation investigator considers a planetary government’s request for credit and guns. An interesting picture o what appears to be an entrenched bureaucracy, but the ending is dumb. (2)

Update: Collected in The Science Fiction of Kris Neville (Southern University Press, hardcover, 1984).

PHILIP LATHAM “Under the Dragon’s Tail.” An astronomer goes mad with the approach of the asteroid Icarus. (1)

Update: Reprinted in On Our Way to the Future, edited by Terry Carr (Ace, paperback, 1970).

– August 1967

WILSON TUCKER – Tomorrow Plus X. Avon T168, paperback, 1957. Cover by Richard Powers. Originally published as Time Bomb (Rinehart, hardcover, 1955).

   A detective story complicated by future developments if telepathy and time-travel. Lieutenant Danforth of the Illinois Security Police is assigned the task of solving several bombings directed at the fanatic Sons of America. The one responsible is from the future, determined to stop Ben’s Boys from taking over America under their dictatorship.

   The attempt to successfully portray this future society, undergoing severe technological upheavals, does not entirely come off. It cannot really escape the appearances of America ten years ago with a few new gadgets thrown in, but this may be caused chiefly by hindsight. Twice, in Chapters 1 and 6, the action seems to stumble badly, but this may have been intended, for later (p.155) Tucker makes a weak attempt to justify the points in question.

Rating: 3 stars.

– August 1967

RAYMOND J. HEALY & J. FRANCIS McCOMAS, Editors – Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time And Space. The Modern Library G-31; hardcover, 1957, xvi + 997 pages. First published as Adventures in Time in Space, Random House, hardcover, 1946. Bantam F3102, paperback, 1966, as Adventures in Time and Space (contains only 8 stories). Ballantine, paperback, 1975, also as Adventures in Time and Space.

Part 4 can be found here.

ALFRED BESTER “Adam and No Eve.” The destruction and rebirth of the earth ages ago, with the secret of rebirth the key to the story. (4)

Update: First published in Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1941. First reprinted in this anthology. Also included in Beyond Control, edited by Robert Silverberg (Thomas Nelson, hardcover, 1972). First collected in Starburst (Signet S1524, paperback original, 1958); then in Star Light, Star Bright (Berkley/Putnam, hardcover, 1976). Bester was an extremely well known author in his day, with several classic novels and short stories to his credit, but I think he’s all but forgotten today.

ISAAC ASIMOV “Nightfall.” One of the best known SF stories of all time, about a civilization haunted by fear of darkness, which recurs every 2050 years. (5)

Update: First published in Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1941. Reprinted and collected many times. Every SF reader  and collector  of a certain age must have read it at least once.

HARRY BATES “A Matter of Size.” Novella. A scientist caught up in a mysterious plot is reduced in size. The ratio of one to twelve makes the dimensions come out easy. (1)

Update: First published in Astounding Stories, April 1934. First reprinted in this anthology. Collected in The Day the Earth Stood Still & Other SF Classics (Renaissance E Books, trade paperback, 2008). Bates’ story “Farewell to the Master” (Astounding SF, October 1940) was the basis for the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Bates was also the editor of Astounding in the early 1930s (1930-33).

– July-August 1967

   

TO BE CONTINUED.

S-F YEARBOOK: A Treasury of Science Fiction, Number One, 1967.     Overall rating: 2½ stars.

JOHN D. MacDONALD “Ring Around the Redhead.” [First published in Startling Stories, November 1948.] An inventor discovers a doorway to other dimensions, then must defend himself in court when it proves dangerous. Readable in spite of weak plot. (2)

CHARLES L. HARNESS “Fruits of the Agathon.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1948.] Novelette. Agathon is a word from the Greek meaning death of an individual planned for the good of society. Confusing, disturbing, and unreadable, but much better than average. (4)

MARGARET ST. CLAIR “The Unreliable Perfumist.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1953.] Intrigue between a family of Martian perfumists. (0)

GORDON R. DICKSON “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” [First published in Startling Stories, December 1952.] Two Cuperians need the help of a talking at to escape Earth. (1)

RAY BRADBURY “The Irritated People.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1947.] Warfare is conducted by radio music, confetti, and mosquitos. (2)

MARGARET ST. CLAIR “The Stroller.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1947.] About strange creatures from Venus. (0)

GEORGE O. SMITH “Journey.” [First published in Startling Stories, May 1948.] Space pilot has to come up with FTL theory to prove he traveled to Alpha Centauri. (3)

EDMOND HAMILTON “The Knowledge Machine.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1948.] Two men take over an inventor’s discovery that speeds learning electronically. (3)

THEODORE STURGEON “The Sky Was Full of Ships.” [First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1947.] Strange visitors to Earth are concerned about the use of atomic power. A famous last line. (3)

– August 1967

ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, December 1966. Overall rating: 3 stars.

JACOB HAY “The Opposite Number.” The “inside” story of the spy business. (3)

AGATHA CHRISTIE “Hercule Poirot and the Sixth Chair.” Original title: “Yellow Iris.” Poirot stops a murder from occurring at a dinner party. (3)

WILLIAM BRITTAIN “The Boy Who Read Agatha Christie.” Schoolboy foils plan of college students. Enjoyable but trivial. (3)

ARTHUR PORGES “Private Beachhead.” Gimmick with radios too uncertain for story basis. (2)

YOUNGMAN CARTER “Seeds of Time.” SF story about visitor through time. Nothing unusual. (3)

CORNELL WOOLRICH “All It Takes Is Brains.” Novelette. Original title “Crime of St. Catherine Street.” Man on a bet enters Montreal with 75¢ and leaves with $1500, being wanted for murder in the meantime. Exciting in pulp style. (4)

CHRISTOPHER ANVIL “The Problem Solver and the Defector.” Verner finds secret plans. (3)

GEORGE EMMETT “Pushkin Pays.” Attempt to dispose of body in ocean fails, thanks to appearance of Russian submarine. (1)

HELEN NIELSEN “The Chicken Feed Mine.” Three ex-servicemen kill a desert rat for his “savings.” (3)

JOHN T. SLADEK “Capital C on Planet Amp.” SF, but in far-out camp style. Garbage. (0)

L. E. BEHNEY “The Long Hot Day.” Tale from home. Husband kills stranger his wife falsely accuses. (3)

JOHN DICKSON CARR “To Wake the Dead.” Original title “Blind Man’s Hood.” An adequate locked room mystery, but supernatural tone of story is forced. (2)

RUFUS KING “Anatomy of a Crime.” hort novel. Stuff Drscoll solves a murder made to appear a textbook suicide. Actually an inverted detective story as the reader follows the battle of wits between murderer and investigator with fascination. (4)

– August 1967

   

Next Page »